Top Five 2019 NFL Draft Prospects- Tackle
These guys will protect the edges of the offensive line and keep the quarterbacks safe. Today I rank the top five offensive tackle prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Jonah Williams- Alabama
Bio: One of the most highly coveted recruits in the country, Jonah Williams graduated high school early to enroll at Alabama. As a freshman, he started ever game at right tackle and was named a Freshman All-American. The following year he moved to left tackle, starting every game during the Crimson Tide's National Championship run. As a junior, he was named first team All-American and earned a spot as an Outland Trophy finalist.
Strengths: Superior technique and won't stray away from his fundamentals. Builds on skill with noticeable improvement each year. Athletic with smooth body control and movement. First steps off snap are quick and controlled. Lateral quickness to reach and secure backside blocks or play side runs. Good acceleration up to the second level. Effective at finding and adjusting to targets in space. Rhythmic combo blocker. Strong drive blocker, moving bodies with straight back and moving legs. Has the balance to sustain base blocks. Smooth with stable upper body on kick slides and redirect inside. Athletic enough to mirror and redirect speed rushers looking to get around his edge. Strong frame able to withstand powerful punches to his core. Able to get low and anchor when bull rushed. Always looking for improved leverage by resetting hands. Hand strength to neutralize defenders once he's latched on.
Weaknesses: Smaller size by NFL standards for a offensive tackle. Lack of arm length could be a concern. May struggle against longer, speed rushers. Keeping his weight up could be an issue. Inconsistent outside hand punch will force unnecessary resets. Questions about functional strength to keep the edges clean. Knee bend has to be controlled as a drive blocker rather than keeping legs straight. Occasionally leans into edge on runs.
Pro Comparison: Jake Matthews
Project Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Cincinnati Bengals
2. Andre Dillard- Washington State
Bio: After playing as a reserve in his first season, Andre Dillard was named the starter at left tackle in 2016. By his senior year, he was named first team All-PAC 12 and third team All-American.
Strengths: Four year starter for prolific passing offenses. Extremely intelligent with high character. Exceptional athlete who tested very well at the NFL Combine. Decent core strength with good arm length. Feet are fast and smooth, making change of direction easy. Lateral quickness to get him to most cut off and reach blocks. Pull steps are very fluid. Runs feet as a base blocker. Has enough balance to adjust to second level targets and deliver a powerful punch. Times his pass slides off the snap. Has the athletic ability to utilize multiple techniques. Well balanced setups and can reset his hands without losing composure. Good mirror quickness to stay in front of edge rushers. Punches with stiff outside hand to slow rushers momentum. Footwork and agility to find smooth recovery angles.
Weaknesses: Inexperienced getting off the ball in the run game. Many question if he has the demeanor to be a block finisher. Handwork as a run blocker needs improvement. Will need time to adjust to NFL sets. Pass slides are short and will require more depth. Punch target is high and lands around the facemask of defenders. Needs more variety in the timing of his strikes to keep rushers guessing. Allowed unnecessary edge pressure due to excessive squeezes inside and out. Indecisive at knowing when to anchor or mirror after initial contact. Doesn't move defenders off path when redirecting from the edge.
Pro Comparison: Eugene Monroe
Project Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Atlanta Falcons
3. Jawaan Taylor- Florida
Bio: In his first year at Florida, Jawaan Taylor started 12 of 13 games and was named a Freshman All-American. As a sophomore, he started 11 games between both tackle spots and played exclusively at right tackle as a junior.
Strengths: Bulky and strong with long arms. Exceptional run blocker with a nasty attitude. Accelerates into run assignments. Runs feet through defenders to keep them out of position. Overall strength keeps base blocks stable. Won't settle for a draw. Footwork continues into position to secure blocks. Good timing on double team blocks Precise and controlled movements up to the second level. Wasn't asked to pull block in Florida's offense, but is capable of the job. First punch is on point and tight. Keeps weight on his toes in pass protection. Slides fluidly and doesn't get forced to the edge quickly. Quick to identify stunts and blitzers. Isn't startled by spin moves. Run blocking skill makes him capable of playing guard.
Weaknesses: Weight management concerns. Weighed as much as 380 pounds in high school and had to lose nearly 35 pounds before Florida would offer him a scholarship. Will get a little restless pre snap. Large number of false starts over the last two years. Occasional poor run blocks due to poor pad level and lazy hands. Overshoots defender, allowing rushers to sneak by him. Inconsistent technique to seal blocks against certain schemes. Loses track of his man when slanting across his body. Can force his weight too much forward when drive blocking. Allows an inside path to the quarterback or ball carrier from stance. Reaches with his inside hand on counter moves rather than moving his feet. Punches land toward neck which could lead to hands to the face penalties. Was forced to sit out the opening series of the Gators' first game last fall because he did not "meet the Gator standard."
Pro Comparison: DJ Humphries
Project Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Cleveland Browns
4. Cody Ford- Oklahoma
Bio: Despite growing up in Louisiana and being touted by SEC schools, Cody Ford signed on at Oklahoma. In his first two seasons of playing time, he played left guard but moved to right tackle in 2018 after Bobby Evans moved to left tackle. He lost 15 pounds to become more mobile in the new position, which paid off in 14 starts, garnering a first-team All-Big 12 spot and a third-team All-American nod.
Strengths: Extremely rare combination of size and athleticism. Broad body carries good weight and thickness from head to toe. Best player on the top offensive line in college football. Experience and skill to play tackle or guard. Good punch into first contact. Power to bulldoze through defenders and open up holes. Play demeanor has a lot of edge. Natural knee bender. Smooth level climber and able to redirect and hit on moving targets. Surprising downfield speed on screen plays. Able to keep mirror against more experienced athletes. Effort stays the same throughout the play.
Weaknesses: Pass protection needs work if he expects to remain a tackle in the NFL. Bad some bad plays against Alabama defenders. Footwork gets erratic against speed or inside moves. Needs to better use his length in pass protection. Slow, wide hands allow defenders to get into his frame. Needs better core form to improve balance. Loses focus which leads to overextension in the running game. More patience is needed when moving up to he second level. Balance through contact is just average. Needs to do a better job of adjusting blocking assignments. Inconsistent body control. Missed all but three games as a redshirt freshman with a broken leg.
Pro Comparison: Cordy Glenn
Project Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Carolina Panthers
5. Greg Little- Mississippi
Bio: As a freshman, Greg Little played in all 12 games and started the final five games at left tackle. He would go on to be named second and first team All-SEC as a sophomore and junior at left tackle.
Strengths: Loose lower body and natural knee bender. Athletic ability allows for no scheme limitations. Has the initial quickness and skill to get cut off blocks. Can adjust blocks to oncoming linebackers. Lateral quickness to gain edge inside. Enough slide quickness to handle the edge. Always looks to make the first hit. Quick handwork to combat hand fighters. Wide base and big feet to sustain mirror. Secures and forces blitz defenders out of the play. Above average ability to make recovery blocks in pass protection.
Weaknesses: Needs to develop core and upper body strength. Lacks power and force on down blocks. Too many fundamental flaws in run blocking. Initial punch in run blocking lacks rhythm and timing. Too much lean at the point of attack. Doesn't keep feet moving through contact. Overall hand strength is just average. Rushes to predetermined block spots. Impatient, looks to find men to block rather than sitting back. Gets pushed back into the pocket by early bull rush. Body control in recovery situations is below average.
Pro Comparison: Duane Brown
Project Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Minnesota Vikings
Other Notable Prospects
Dalton Risner- Kansas State
- Mechanically sound, Sluggish out of stance
Kaleb McGary- Washington
- Great size, struggles to sustain blocks on the move.
Chuma Edoga- USC
- Naturally athletic, shorter than ideal
Michael Jordan- Ohio State
- Five position versatility, needs more muscle mass
Dru Samia- Oklahoma
- Nice length and athleticism, aggression needs controlled
Isaiah Prince- Ohio State
- Gains ground on kick slides, not a natural knee bender
Bobby Evans- Oklahoma
- Three year starter, not a great athlete